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Wrestlemania XL Night 1 Review: A Big Night That Doesn’t Deliver on the Hype

Photo Credit: WWE

RAW Women’s Title Match: “The Eradicator” Rhea Ripley (C) vs. “The Man” Becky Lynch: This was a good opener. Both women came in with real life issues (Rhea’s bad wrist and Becky suffering from strep throat). You wouldn’t know it from the work. While not the smoothest match in the world, these two brought it and you could tell they wanted to not only win the belt, but destroy the other. That always absolves any in-ring issue. Mami wins the big one with the Riptide. Becky walks off with two months left on her deal, and who knows her future.

RAW + Smackdown Ladder Match for the Tag Titles: A-Town Down Under (Austin Theory & Grayson Waller), DIY (Tomasso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano), The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston), New Catch Republic (Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate) and Awesome Truth (R Truth & The Miz): This was a very fun match. R Truth is a national treasure and if you can’t appreciate him for everything he’s worth — no matter the alphabet soup of wrestling promotion you love — then your card needs to be pulled. Truth’s bits with DIY and Judgement Day were fantastic. Everyone worked their tails off and New Catch Republic, the team with the least cache, really got themselves over.

Rey Mysterio & Andrade (with LWO) vs. Santos Escobar & Dominick Mysterio (with Legado del Fantasma): This was an okay match. Andrade and Rey have always had great chemistry (go back to their pre-COVID series of matches in 2019, it was a saving grace of RAW), but even that couldn’t help this snoozer. The ancillary ringside talent did not do this match any favors as it felt like spot after spot got blown. The big highlight here was Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce coming in with Philadelphia Eagles-styled Rey Mysterio masks and helping Team Rey work. Did it make logical sense? Nope. But sometimes, logic is over-ruled by a fun finish.

Jimmy Uso vs. “Main Event” Jey Uso: This was easily the worst match of night and maybe one of the worst matches in Wrestlemania history — and that’s not just because it genuinely a bad match, but it was a great storyline squandered. Billed as the end of the Uso Civil War and a match between two men who hated each other it was lame as hell. This should have been in a cage, had some sort of stipulation, literally anything to give it juice. Instead, they learned into the worst parts of the “cinema” of The Bloodline storyline. They wrestled like they were in quicksand and employed the Roman Reigns “monologue and mash” fighting style. Unfortunately, that only works for Roman. And you know what? The crowd sat on its hands for the entirety of the match. This was absolute garbage.

Jade Cargill, Bianca Belar and Naomi vs. Damage Control: This match was designed for one thing and one thing only — introduce and get over Jade Cargill. It definitely was successful in doing so. While she’s had better showings in AEW (despite what many thinlk), Jade seemed a little nervous (rightfully so), and she’ll only get better with time. She’s a star, and there’s no denying it. Naomi, sadly, got one killer move in and is not treated on the level she should (a star). Bianca, however, an all-timer. Keeps proving it every match. Damage Control are aces. Never doubt they’ll bring out the best in who they’re in the ring with.

Sami Zayn vs. Gunter for the Intercontinental Title: I thought Sami had zero chance. Here’s what changed my mind (before the finish obviously). First, there was SO MUCH, backstage emotion with him, his wife, his son, Chad Gable and then finally Kevin Owens. Then I realized this was happening before the main event, so they definitely needed something positive before everyone was sent home disappointed when Cody and Seth lost. Also, they kept showing Sami Zayn’s wife … so that was definitely a tell tale too. Sami and Gunther was a terrific David and Goliath match. Gunther restored the feeling to the IC Title, and now will hopefully go onto bigger and better.

The Main Event of Wrestlemania XL Night 1: “The Freakin’ Nightmares” — Seth “Freakin'” Rollins and “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes vs. The Bloodline — “The Final Boss” The Rock and “The Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns with “The Wiseman” Paul Heyman: It was extremely impressive how great The Rock looked physically and I admire him for taking bumps and doing everything he could in this match. However, this was a bit of a slog. Yes, Roman, Seth and Cody need to save themselves for their matches tomorrow, but man oh man, the first 70% of this match was overly slow. Once Roman accidentally speared The Rock, it got more interesting, and the crowd was back in it (like most of the night, they seemed dead). The Rock taking a Rock Bottom through a table was nuts. Say what you will about all this, and I have, but all the credit to Rock for doing this much. The ending was a bit too dragged out and the crowd did not react with the crazy heat they were expecting. I think they were expecting garbage in the ring, deafening boos. However, a lot of people liked the finish. Cody did the sad face meme.

Overall Thoughts: Wrestlemania XL Night 1 was perfectly okay. Some good wrestling including a fantastic Gunther and Sami Zayn bout. However, we’ve seen way better Wrestlemania Night 1 events in the past. The hype was gargantuan for WWE, and unfortunately they could not live up to it.

Wrestlemania XL Night 1 is now streaming on Peacock.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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